Door Latch Vulnerability to Rollover Induced Loads 2004-01-0737
Light truck and SUV rollovers often involve ground contacts at the roof rails or door sills that can induce significant vertical shear loads at the latch/striker interface. These vertical loads are not evaluated in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard testing yet they are known to cause latch failures. Such failures expose both belted and unrestrained occupants to increased injury risk. An example of two such failures can be found in open literature in a single van rollover test.
A simple vertical load test for latches is described by the authors and evaluated for discrimination, suitability and repeatability. This test was applied to an array of current and past generation latches found on many popular SUVs and light trucks. A large range of failure loads was encountered. A review of the structural features of the superior performing test samples suggests simple modifications that could dramatically improve performance of the remaining latches. Improved performance in this vertical load test could be expected to translate to fewer unwanted door openings and ejections in field accidents.